Fun Facts about the gayborhood of Brooklyn that Steve and Bucky grew up in:
Sands Street, below the Brooklyn Navy Yard, was Peak Gay Cruising territory.
a more elegant cruising hot spot was the Hotel St. George, the biggest in the country, with an Olympic size Art Deco-decorated saltwater swimming pool, and the Clark Street subway station (also for cruising in the mens room) under it.
At 329 Pacific Street there was a gay brothel busted on March 14, 1942 in a scandal called ‘the Swastika Swishery.’
(Since the brothel’s specialty was providing members of the armed services to wealthy men, it was suspected that German spies were hiring American servicemen to pump them over pillow talk for information about troop movements. This was a big scandal because one of the ‘clients’ was suspected of being a Senator.)
the other Peak Gay Cruising Zone was Coney Island
which was known for its bathing houses with, eg. nude sunbathing on the roofs
including one with a pink stucco facade called ‘the Pink Palace’
it was so gay that when the swanky Washington Baths held a male beauty contest, in August 1929, with famous judges:
not only were the majority of the crowd men,
but all the beauty king entrants were so visibly gay, and many of them in full make-up (that they were asked to take off) that Sobbie Vallee (sister of Rudy Vallee), who was one of the judges, ended up yelling at the crowd: “Ladies, don’t you know those boys are awful floozies?”
AND THE LADIES IN THE CROWD DIDN’T CARE.
(they picked men with mascara on, even though entreated to go for hairy, tattooed guys who were expected to be not gay, somehow)
Brooklyn was also a place of homage for gay poets because Walt Whitman lived there when he wrote the super-gay Leaves of Grass; also the later poets/writers Hart Crane and Truman Capote.
And there was a house at 7 Middagh Street, aka February House, which was an artist commune that at various times housed or played host to Carson McCullers (probably trans), George Davis, W. H. Auden, Oliver Smith, Benjamin Britten and his lover Peter Pears, burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee, Christopher Isherwood, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, and more.
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